Madrid, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid blanked Valencia at home on Thursday, two first-half tallies telling the story during the match, which was played in the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium to empty stands due to coronavirus gathering restrictions.
It was the third consecutive win for Zinedine Zidane’s capital squad and the loss leaves Valencia just three points above the relegation threshold.
Karim Benzema scored the first goal in the 12th minute against a Valencia that, throughout the match, looked helpless to fend off the relentless capital squad, and then Tony Kroos added a second tally in the 42nd minute to give Madrid a comfy 2-0 lead going into the break.
Ferland Mendy tried to make it 3-0 in the second half, but the goal was cancelled due to an offsides call.
Although late last month, Real Madrid had been defeated by Levante and at the time saw little chance of figuring in the La Liga title race, now – in the 23rd week of play and with three wins in a row in the books – hopes are beginning to coalesce that Zidane’s boys could be back in the running, with league leader Atletico Madrid “only” five points ahead in the table, albeit having played two games fewer.
Kroos sent a nice pass to Benzema for the match’s initial goal as he finessed his way past Gabriel Paulista to put the ball into the net just inside the far post.
The second tally came on a great set-up, with Lucas Vazquez knocking it out to Asensio before running into the box, whereupon Asensio fed it to Modric, who instead of firing it to Vazquez, faked out the Valencia players by sending it to Kroos, who shot it right into the corner.
Mendy’s right-footed goal after the break was disallowed after VAR review.
A minute of silence was observed before the start of the match to honor Pachin, a former Madrid player who recently died.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal (Lucas Vazquez, m.28), Nacho, Varane, Mendy; Casemiro, Modric (Isco, m.79), Kroos; Marco Asensio (Arribas, m.71), Vinicius and Benzema (Mariano,m.79).
Valencia: Jaume; Thierry, Gabriel Paulista, Ferro, Gayá; Wass, Racic, Carlos Soler, Guedes (Gameiro, m.46); Manu Vallejo (Musah, m.46) and Maxi Gomez (Cutrone, m.83).
Referee: Sanchez Martinez showed yellow cards to Valencia’s Guedes (27th minute), Racic (44th minute) and Thierry (46th minute).